Panax Ginseng

            THE IMPERIAL PLANT

 

 

                                     

                                    Dr. Francesco Pensato

 

 

The history

Ginseng, in the Chinese language " Jen-Shen " has the meaning of: "Root Man.

The pronounced ideogram Jen is associated to the meaning of man, and  shen is associated to the meaning of root.

Also the botanical name Panax Ginseng, reflects hits  fame and  greatness.

In fact, Panax, from the Greek pan-axos,  literally means "that it recovers all ."

An early reference to Ginseng, we can find  in the Bible, where in a passage of Ezechiele  : They dealt in wheat of Minnith and Pan-nang ( Ginseng )  honey and oil and balm.

Concerning  the first meeting between man and ginseng, they are in circulation  different legends, but the concensus , is that tha plant had a  divine origin .

"The root of ginseng was not found by the man, but he  was found by the root."

The first newsworthy report from China is around  3500 B.C. period of the emperor Shen Nung, called the Celestial Grower, in his  studies on the grass called "Pen-tshao kan mu", that is' teachings on the understanding of the grass.  Emperor Shen Nung's discoveries were taken back and widened by another emperor, Huang Ti, in 2600 B.C.

With the span  of  centuries, Chinese medicine evolved  and  Ginseng accompanied this growth.

We find in many quotations about the  plant in different documents.

 

In 200 B.C. the emperor Cho-who-Clu, in one of his writings describes Ginseng as a remedy to recover every sort of illness, reestablishing the normal equilibrium of the organism.

 

From the seventh, to the tenth century, the dynasty You Ang elected   Ginseng  to the dignity' of "Imperial Plant."

Around around the year 1000, the dynasty of  Sung' declared  that its value was equal to its weight in silver.

Seven hundred years after, the emperor K'ang-hsi I sent  10.000 tartars soldiers, to look  for ginseng, ordering  theirs , that each brought  to  him not less than two kati (around 1 Kg)  of the  best quality and  he authorized  the sale of any surplus  with price equivalent to the  weight in silver.

Around  the eighteenth century  Ginseng spreads in the European medical circles, thanks to a Jesuit and to a progressive emperor.

The Emperor had  a lot of respect for the erudition of the Jesuits,  so submitted ' to Father Jartroux, some topographical papers of central China.

The journey by horse was long and hard through endless central China,

It was' really during a particularly arduous trek, that father Jartoux felt exhausted and deprived of his strengths so much that he could not seat on  his  horse.

But then , a  "miraculous " thing  happened !

His guide offered him a piece of a strange root to be chewed and the tiredness disappeared and he was able' to continue the trip with renewed energy.

After that he wrote to the Royal Society in London, describing the effects of this mighty root, called by the tartars "Orhota" that is' “Head of the plants”.

After a few years ginseng was elected, by law, for the first time into an official Pharmacopoeia,

The ginseng has been the most precious plant in the history of far  east.

Real wars have been fought for the possession of the forests, in which ginseng spontaneously grew.

A Tartar emperor erected an enormous paling, around a whole province, in defense of his ginseng plantations.

Poachers were punished with death.

In the second half part of the eighteenth century the cultivation of this wild and precious plant, finally took root  in Korea perhaps favored by the positive climate.

The botany

The Panax Ginseng belongs to the family of the " Araliacee ".

It is a perennial and deciduous plant, whose leaves dies every autumn and revive in spring.

In the wild state the plant grows in  groups propagating itself from the seeds falling from  the mother plant.

When it grows naturally  the seeds  of  ginseng  buds at  the beginning of  spring,  having remained under earth from 18 to 21 months - a incredibly long germination.

But also the duration  of growth is  not brief. The first year of bud only grows to 5 centimeters and has three small oval leaves.

In autumn the stem and the leaves fall, leaving a sort of scar on the rhizome of the plant.

The rhizome is a kind of root  defined  "neck."

Counting the number of scars on the neck of the root ,we are  able to count the age' of the plant.

In the third year of growth the plant reaches only around 20 cm tall with only three groups of leaves, each group  formed by five leaves (quinquefolium)

By the fourth year it reaches 40 cm , with five groups of leaves.

 

The fleshy root of ginseng has  pale yellow color, with a characteristic bitter  taste, and possesses various forms: dragon, child and man -“the most  appreciated”.

The root of the Panax ginseng his as edible as carrots or radishes..

In the world exist some varieties of Ginseng classified in a chart from Professor Hara.

In general the most precious variety is " Panax Ginseng C.To. Meyer (jen-Sheng), coming from China.

There are different  kind of ginseng .such  as  Korean Panax Ginseng or  Panax pseudoginseng (seven leaves)  from  Nepal, or from  Japan.

Other existing kinds are Panax bipinnafitidum in Thailand and in Myanmar , or  the Panax Americano quinquefolium  from  America.

 

Properties

 

As previously explained in the brief history , to this root divine powers  has been attributed .

In  the light of accurate clinical and toxicological studies we can confirm such voices  from the history, affirming that the root of  Panax Ginseng contains beneficial properties

In general it is able to restore and to regulate the correct dynamic equilibrium of the human organism, because it increases adaptation to the environmental changes.

Ginseng is the more' effective "natural Adaptogen " existing in  the world.

 

The human organism, through a complicated mechanism of physiological equilibrium, is always in an activity', called "homeostasis" - it maintains a constant environment inside the body.

To understand to best,  the concept of "homeostasis" and of " Adaptogen ", we observe what happens in a human body, that is  in a situation of danger -  defined " fight or flight ", as under threat of an aggressor.

We immediately say that this situation of "stress", following which a series of physiological mechanisms of self-defense are instigated, with the objective to optimize the availability of vital trials.

Cardiac pulsations and blood pressure are increases for bringing more' oxygen to the muscles.

The senses of hearing and of smell will be stronger and the pupils more dilated to pick up more' information.

Breathing becomes faster, using a great quantity' of oxygen .

The  blood o capillaries become  constrained  to reduce  perception to  pain or  bleeding  in case of wounds.

Perspiration increases for maintaining under control any heat produced by an intense muscular exercise. Blood  is momentarily hijacked from the stomach and the bowel towards  the brain.

The Hypothalamus is tied up with hormonal management  for  the equilibrium of these complex mechanisms.

This happens through the production, from the pituitary gland, of a neurological transmitter hormone, called  ACTH.

This hormone orders all the necessary variations, through the targetted stimulation of other organs ,appointed to the production of further hormones.

This self-defense, will finish in the moment  at which the situation of danger comes' to pass  and all the physiological mechanisms will return to a situation of normalcy.'

Such a mechanism of adaptability' to  external conditions, in order  to maintain a constant environment inside our organism, is  defined "homeostasis."

The factor that is  able to favor  this physiological return to normalcy is defined as " Adaptogen "

The problems start when the organism doesn't have time or the opportunity to relax, and the mechanisms described before don't stop, rather continue to increase.

This condition  we call  “negative stress”, as it is able to cause: asthenia, fatigue, attrition, that will be translated in  middle to  long term into  serious health problems.

All the experiments developed for studying the effects and the effectiveness of ginseng, it appears to act on the cerebral bark as a stimulant and also acts on the centers that check the homeostasis, situated in the inferior part or "visceral" of the brain, making the hormonal answer to the external stimuli more’ effective, thanks to its active components: The Ginsenoids .

Ginseng makes  the organism' more resistant, reducing consequent damage for  every type of battle, both because of pathogenic  agents and because of situations of negative stress.

In fact more' then that, ginseng takes care of specific illnesses, restoring a correct “homeostasis “normalizing possible dysfunctions.

In general the main properties of Ginseng are:

1          It increases resistance to the infections and illnesses

2          It improves the general physical conditions of the user and it prolongs life

3          it Improves   mental faculties

4          It reduces fatigue and  increases vigor

5          it Improve it visual capacity.

 

Some laboratory tests  

 

Many tests, on the properties of Ginseng, have given amazing results.

One of the first , developed  in 1948, in Russia, by the Dr. Brekman, left  the experimenter literally without breath.

On  a group of one hundred soldiers , was asked to make a run  of  three km . 

An hour before, fifty of them got a spoon of ginseng extract, while to the other fifty got only  a spoon of water and flavoring .

All the soldiers that had ingested the extract arrived half a minute before the group that had received only water.

From that first, and encouraging experiment, numerous follow-ups were made all over the world.

A second, very interesting experiment it was' developed by the dr. Medvedev,,in Russia, on a sample  of 32 radio-operators ,all from  the 21 to  23 years old.

Also in this case the, result was' amazing,

Although the ginseng did not seem to influence the number of transmitted characters, however  the number of the  errors due  to  tiredness, notably smaller in the group treated with Ginseng.

 

Other interesting tests, turned-out  to show an effectiveness in the fields of the hypertension  and a arteriosclerosis, They had comforting results.

A 56 year-old patient of  dr. Popov, had  a rate of middle cholesterol of 350 mgs / dl and he  had been suffering for years from  chronic  hypertension resistant  to all the medicines.

He was administered extract of ginseng, twice a day, for one month.

 At the end of the month his rate of cholesterol was normal.

His blood  pressure had also reentered to  normal level  and surprisingly  his mild diabetes had disappeared.

Another clinical test, developed in Korea by Dr. K.H.Koo, showed the effectiveness of the ginseng in the treatment of the hepatitis B, through the normalization of different liver enzymes.

Also in to oppose the aging process, ginseng has shown, in the tests, to have notable effects .

 A lot of the existing pathologies in the elderly people can be referred to as a physical and mental deterioration.

In the mechanism of the aging process, role of Free Radicals has strong effect.

These are substances produced by biochemical reactions that happen inside our organism.

Free Radicals have a notable oxidizing power and in contact with cellular molecules they provoke damage and destruction.

In the ginseng there have been isolated components with strong antioxidant, power (phenol and Poly acetylene compounds) to oppose the harmful effects of free radicals and oxidizers

In the final analysis, we can assume that using ginseng only results in positive outcomes.

In fact no tests have ever demonstrated any negative collateral effect on the the human organism.

                                                                         

  Dr.Francesco Pensato

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